SEA RAY SLX 310 QUICK SPIN

A day­boat with plenty of tricks up its sleeve, this is a great in­tro­duc­tion to fun-filled days on the wa­ter

Motorboat & Yachting - - Contents - Words Jack Haines Pic­tures Lester Mccarthy

The SLX range is Sea Ray at its best: cool, prac­ti­cal, ver­sa­tile and de­signed for hav­ing fun out on the wa­ter. How does the 310 fare?

The con­di­tions that we are test­ing the SLX 310 in are a world away from what it is de­signed for. We’re off Porto Cristo on the east coast of Ma­jorca and the Med is in a hor­ri­ble mood, throw­ing up a con­fused, pointy chop that doesn’t al­low for any sort of rhythm from the helm seat. It’s about be­ing on and off the throt­tle to keep im­pact to a min­i­mum and spot­ting a small gap in the on­slaught to make some de­cent progress. The stand­ing driv­ing po­si­tion is com­fort­able for rough-weather work. The 310 may be a wa­ter­sports-ori­en­tated fam­ily day­boat, but it’s tack­ling these con­di­tions ad­mirably. The ride is dry and as­sured and the pair of 6.2-litre 300hp Mer­cruiser V8s are de­liv­er­ing a de­li­cious sound­track to pro­ceed­ings. At times, in the rough among the troughs, the torque of the op­tional twin 260hp diesel mo­tors is missed, but for flat-out per­for­mance and smooth op­er­a­tion, the twin petrols can’t be faulted.

This isn’t the sort of fo­cused, slen­der sports­boat that you drive like hell into the waves and let the hull do the work – you have to ca­ress it through the chop. But drive sen­si­bly and it will dig deep and look af­ter you. It’s a fam­ily boat, and all you need to know is that when the af­ter­noon breeze kicks up some ob­sta­cles, the 310 will get you back to base safely and com­fort­ably.

DE­SIGN IN MIND

Stop bounc­ing around for a sec­ond and you can ap­pre­ci­ate some of the work that has gone into mak­ing the 310 such a com­pe­tent day cruiser. It has a very flex­i­ble cock­pit with an aft bench that can be con­verted into a sun­pad and popup back­rests fac­ing aft so you can sit and keep an eye on those swim­ming be­hind the boat. You can set up ta­bles in the cock­pit and bow rider sec­tion at the same time, or you can con­vert one or both of them into sun­pads. The twin bench ad­ja­cent to the helm swivels, on a nicely en­gi­neered mech­a­nism that’s a breeze to use, to face into the cock­pit and be­come part of the dinette. Over­head there is an op­tional pow­ered canopy that can be raised and low­ered at the touch of a but­ton to ei­ther add more pro­tec­tion to the helm, ad­just the shade level of the cock­pit or clamp com­pletely down to re­duce the air draught, or for in­land work or trans­port.

For day­boat du­ties, the heads, with a proper loo, sink and some stor­age, is a big ad­van­tage and means you don’t have to plan a cruise around ac­cess to fa­cil­i­ties, choos­ing to stay on an­chor all day if you wish. An­noy­ingly though, the door did keep pop­ping open so it seems a beefed-up catch is in or­der.

Some­thing that isn’t so wel­come is the car­pet on the cock­pit sole. The American yards seem to love it but it’s so im­prac­ti­cal, es­pe­cially on a boat that’s go­ing to spend much of its time cater­ing for swim­mers and those do­ing wa­ter­sports. There is a teak op­tion but for me, the op­tional In­fin­ity floor­ing, which is made from wo­ven fi­bres and kept in place with pop­pers, is by far the most prac­ti­cal and at­trac­tive op­tion.

AUTO MO­TIVES

There’s a whole host of op­tional fea­tures de­signed to make life eas­ier if you’re new to boat­ing, or sim­ply want the boat and its tech­nol­ogy to take the strain. The Ax­ius sys­tem takes the stress out of berthing by vec­tor­ing the Bravo III stern­drives to make the boat move in any di­rec­tion you point the joy­stick. Sim­i­larly, Mer­cury Ma­rine’s Ac­tive Trim sys­tem will ma­nip­u­late the legs and trim tabs to de­liver the best-run­ning at­ti­tude for the con­di­tions, and it can even be used to ad­just the wake de­pend­ing on what wa­ter­sports you’re do­ing. Even the helm de­sign uses au­to­mo­tive touches, such as the dig­i­tal in­stru­ment dis­play, flush­mounted into the dash and en­com­pass­ing en­gine revs, speed, ba­sic en­gine in­for­ma­tion and an in­set chart dis­play to aid nav­i­ga­tion. The sys­tem is slick enough but it’s not as ad­vanced as ded­i­cated mar­itime MFDS, which you can spec if you pre­fer.

The dash and driv­ing po­si­tion also has an au­to­mo­tive feel, which is no bad thing if your ex­pe­ri­ence of boats is lim­ited. It’s fun and a bit flash and doubt­less the younger buyer that this boat is aimed at will like it. There are other smart and thought­ful touches too, such as the air com­pres­sor tucked in a locker be­hind the helm, which is use­ful for in­flat­ing wa­ter toys quickly, and the hy­draulic plat­form that de­ploys at the stern at the perfect height to put on wa­ter­skis or col­lect peo­ple from the wa­ter.

The SLX 310 re­ally is Sea Ray at its best. This is a fun, good-look­ing, fast (up to 43 knots on a calm day), safe, prac­ti­cal day­boat with some neat tricks up its sleeve that the whole fam­ily can ap­pre­ci­ate. Con­tact Ma­rina Mar­bella. Tel: +44 (0)1202 714970. Web: www.searay.com

Big bow rid­ers like the 310 make a lot of sense if you only use it as a day­boat

The dig­i­tal dis­play can be hard to read in di­rect sun­light but it looks good

A great cock­pit, but we’d lose the car­pet and add a teak-topped ta­ble The spa­cious heads com­part­ment will come in handy on day trips

Ac­cess to the mo­tors is good thanks to the deck lift­ing on a hy­draulic ram

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